It's hard to decide which lures to buy when you're new to bass fishing. There are so many of them, and you don't have enough money to get them all. But, if you make the right choices, you can put together a small collection of lures that will catch bass anywhere. Let's look at some good ones for getting started in bass fishing.
Have you ever seen a bass "explode" on a topwater bait? The bait is chirping along on top of the water without a care in the world. Suddenly, Moby Bass leaps up from nowhere, and the bait disappears into its big mouth.
Because you see the strike, there is no doubt about when to set the hook. You can also see how a topwater bait acts when you twitch the rod or crank faster or more slowly.
Popper: The silver and black 1/4-ounce Rebel Pop-R is used by many professional bass fishermen. This includes Zell Rowland from Montgomery, Texas, who has won tournaments with the Pop-R and Zell Pop. Rowland catches many bass up to 3 pounds — and sometimes even larger — on a Pop-R.
The Pop-R works best in clear water where you can see down at least 2 feet. Cast it next to bass cover along the shoreline, such as boat docks, fallen trees and the edges of weeds. It also catches bass in the middle of ponds.
After the Pop-R splashes into the water, let it rest until the ripples die. This is when many bass strike. Hold the rod level with the water, and give the bait a soft, sideways twitch. You want the bait to "pop" the surface while moving a short distance. Let the Pop-R rest for a few seconds, and pop it again. Then continue the pop-pause retrieve back to the boat.
Buzzbait: A buzzbait doesn't float like a Pop-R, so you have to start reeling immediately after it hits the water. Its blade sputters on the surface like an airplane propeller and triggers strikes from big bass. Buzzbaits cover water quickly and rarely snag because the hook rides up. They catch bass in clear to murky water and are especially good when pulled over weeds.The 5/16-ounce Triple Clicker from Bass Pro Shops has a triple blade. This lets it work on the surface with slower retrieves than standard double blade buzzbaits. Slow retrieves usually produce more strikes than fast retrieves. Cast beyond the cover whenever you can, and run the buzzbait over the bass. You can't go wrong with a white skirt and a silver blade.
Jerkbaits are slender minnow-shaped lures that work well in clear water. The basic retrieve is a jerk-jerk-pause, jerk-jerk-twitch-pause rhythm that makes the bait dart along under the surface. These lures pull bass up from rocky bottoms, submerged weeds and out from under boat docks.
Floating: Fish a 1/2-ounce Bomber Long A (model 15A) when bass feed after the spawn. Use quick jerks with short pauses, because the bass are hungry and active in the warm water. Try the Silver Flash Blue Back color.
Suspending: Working a jerkbait with soft twitches and long pauses catches big bass in cold water before the spawn. Fish a suspending jerkbait that hangs in place during pauses so the sluggish bass have time to react. Smithwick's 3/8-ounce Suspending Super Rogue in the Clown color is a proven producer.
The spinnerbait catches bass of all sizes spring through fall. It works in clear to muddy water and from less than 1 foot deep to more than 10 feet deep. The overhead wire and spinners protect the upturned hook. As long as the spinnerbait is moving forward, it bumps through most weeds and limbs without snagging.
Willowleaf Blade: Bass feed mainly by sight in clear to lightly stained water where they can easily see a long, flashy willowleaf blade. Strike King's 1/4-ounce Premier Elite spinnerbait has a willowleaf blade and a smaller Colorado blade, a good combination. Get the white shad pattern: It has silver blades and a silvery skirt.
Colorado Blade: In stained to muddy water, bass feed more by sound than sight. A spinnerbait with a single, round Colorado blade puts out thumping vibrations. Bass charge after this spinnerbait even before they see it. Booyah's 1/4-ounce single Colorado blade spinnerbait in chartreuse with a gold blade will do the job. Fish it around stumps, stickups and other wood cover.
Wiggling crankbaits can imitate baitfish or crawfish. They cover water fast, and bass usually hook themselves on the sharp treble hooks.
Super Shallow: A crankbait like Mann's 1/4-ounce Baby 1-Minus runs no deeper than 12 inches. Choose a baitfish color like Wild Shiner or Tennessee Shad, and crank it over weeds that grow up within inches of the surface.
Square Bill: Fat, shallow running crankbaits that have square bills bounce over stumps and limbs and rarely snag. Bagley's 7/16-ounce Balsa B is especially snag resistant. Stop cranking the Balsa B for a second when this buoyant bait hits something and floats free. Chartreuse with a black back is a color that produces well when cranking wood cover in murky water.
Lipless Rattler: Lipless rattling crankbaits, like the 1/4-ounce Rat-L-Trap, swim with a tight, vibrating wiggle that makes its internal BBs chatter. The commotion excites bass into biting in all seasons, and especially in the spring and fall. Cast this crankbait over weedbeds and into open water. Keep it away from wood and snaggy bottoms, because the hooks latch onto anything they touch. The chrome with a blue or black back color catches bass anywhere.
Soft plastic baits
Soft plastic baits are harder to fish than most other lures. That's because the bites are light and hard to sense. You'll have an easier time learning with plastic baits that you fish without weights. Since you normally fish these baits within a few feet of the surface, you often see the strike.
Even if you don't see the strike, a bass tends to hold onto a soft plastic bait longer if it doesn't have a weight. Watch your line closely because you'll see many strikes you can't feel. If the line jumps or starts moving off, reel in the slack and set the hook as hard as you can. Texas rig these baits with a wide gap 3/0 worm hook, and you can twitch them over the thickest bass cover. You can also skip them far up under boat docks.
Floating Worm: A white or bubblegum color floating worm stays up near the surface where you can see its bright color. The 6-inch Weedless Wacky Worm has a short piece that extends from the middle for the hook.
Soft Jerkbait: Twitch Zoom's white/pearl 5-inch Super Fluke on or just below the surface. Its baitfish shape and darting action make it look like an injured or fleeing minnow.
Senko Style: One of the most productive baits used by the pros is the Senko style worm. Kinami's 4-inch Flash in the watermelon color is a good example. Cast this bait next to cover and let it sink. It falls with a gentle wiggling action that bass can't resist. Almost all the bass strike as the lure sinks.
All the lures mentioned here fit neatly into a size 3700 utility box. It's just like the ones the pros use. This flat box is clear, so you can see what's inside. Removable dividers let you customize it to make long and short compartments as you need them. And, it's small enough to fit into a backpack when you bicycle to a fishing hole.
Rod and reel
A 6 1/2-foot medium action baitcasting outfit with 12-pound test monofilament is a good match for all the lures mentioned here. Another good choice is a 6 1/2-foot medium action spinning outfit with 10-pound line.
All bass anglers should have three important tools in their tackleboxes:
- Line clippers. Never bite through the line because this can damage your teeth.
- Needle nose pliers. They remove stubborn hooks from bass and reshape bent hooks.
- Small sharpening stone. Smart fishermen check their hooks often and immediately sharpen dull points.
Originally published August 2007